Energy Indolence is becoming more likely, but will it impact foreign affairs?






By: Phillip Robinette, Staff Member 

Energy independence has been seen as a highly valued, yet difficult to achieve, goal for the United States for many years.  Its importance has crossed party lines, yet for many it seemed unlikely to be accomplished. With the price of gas increasing to new heights, as of March 5th the mean price for a gallon of gas was $3.79, slowly increasing towards the record high of $4.21, this topic is more appropriate now than ever.[1] This view has been challenged recently.  As of right now only 37.8% of our crude oil comes from domestic production.[2]

Now some believe this seemingly unobtainable goal is within reach for Americans.  Energy economist Phil Verleger stated his belief that the US will not even have to import any crude oil within a decade.[3] Vergler attributed this development to small companies started by American entrepreneurs utilizing new techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling which have opened up large amounts of gas and oil that were previously trapped under layers of shale.[4] As of right now production is around half a million barrels a day of oil but reports are that this number is steadily increasing.[5]
            
These optimistic predictions are not without their detractors.  Dan Kammen from the University of California, Berkely claims that achieving 100% domestic energy production may be a step in the wrong direction.  He argues that we need to continue focusing on renewable energy methods, i.e. solar, wind and geothermal.[6]  A large incentive for reaching energy independence is that the US would no longer have to engage with potentially hostile Middle Eastern countries.  However, some claim this is not true because the US still needs to ensure the security of oil imports of its allies, ensuring protection for Israel and the continuing need to protect the balance of power in the region.[7]  Despite these detractions,
energy independence seems to be a more and more realistic outcome.  If this future will help alleviate the necessity of foreign engagements is something that only the future can tell.


[1] http://www.npr.org/2012/03/06/148087543/whats-behind-these-high-gas-prices
[2] Id.
[3] http://www.npr.org/2012/03/07/148036966/is-u-s-energy-independence-finally-within-reach
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] http://www.riskwatchdog.com/2012/03/06/us-energy-independence-geopolitical-consequences/